Adventures – catching up

As this blog grows, I plan to share photos and stories about recent adventures, some with our kids, some without.  We’ve been lucky enough to enjoy some amazing travel opportunities abroad, as well as some close-to-home excursions I think you might enjoy hearing about.   Eventually, these “Adventures”  will have their own home on this site, but for now, I will gradually upload some pics, and add as we go.

Alaska, by Land and Sea.  May 2015.

alaska 1

alaska 2

alaska 3

alaska 4

 

What A N-Ice Day!

ice tree

As I sit here, contemplating how our lives have changed since the snow days of my kids’ younger years, I reminisce about the good old days.

Both my teenage kids (well, actually one is 20) are tucked safely into their beds.  This is very rare, these days.  Schools in our area were cancelled because of dangerous traveling conditions, and my son, who attends a university almost three hours from home, came home yesterday, one day early, for the Easter long weekend.

Now, they sleep safely and soundly…likely dreaming of ways to out-wit the other to get use of the car first, and convince mom that the roads really aren’t that bad, after all.  (in reality, in my house the storm is actually the calm before the storm!)

I used to (and still do!) love surprise snow days.  Our lives were so busy when the kids were little, to actually be forced to NOT do anything was absolutely glorious!  I miss much about those days, especially when both kids were in grade school.  School would be cancelled, and it would be unsafe for us to go anywhere by car, so they would don their snow suits and enjoy play time outside with no schedule whatsoever, other than some breaks to un-numb their toes and fingers, and a cup of hot chocolate here and there.

It was a lot of fun, and they actually learned a thing or two! 😉

Here are some columns about snow days of the past:

⇒ So! Much! Snow!
“It’s free, it’s fun, and it falls like an exciting and unexpected present from the sky!”

⇒ Snow Day Education
…Among other things, my kids learned to evade my suggestions of productivity  by developing an acute sense that indicated precisely the instant that I would take a break from my own work to inquire how theirs was coming along.”

⇒ Pushing the Limits
…if history is an indicator of how this snow ball season will go, the rules will quite likely become stricter as the days progress since my kids – and I’m sure you’ll find this surprising – always find ways to push the limit”

⇒ Anatomy of a Snow Day
“My approach to the board game is working, because I’m soon ready to complete my Lego structure and win the game.  Realizing this, the kids quickly join forces and begin making up “rules” that enable them to take my pieces and jeopardize my win.  It’s endearing when they (ahem) work so well together.”

 

 

Preparing Your Own Beans

Trust me…It’s.  So.  Easy. beans

I do my best to avoid using canned goods. I find it’s impossible to completely avoid them, and they are so amazingly convenient, but if I organize myself properly, I can prepare a load throughout the day when I’m not even home.   Freezing them, them pulling them out of the freezer for next time is certainly no more trouble than opening a can.

What’s great about preparing your own beans?

  • although canned beans aren’t expensive, the base price is cheaper to prepare dry beans yourself.  I have not calculated the hydro it takes to cook your own, but pre-soaking, before cooking them with whichever method you choose, drastically cuts down on cooking time
  • no risk of bpa from the inside lining of the cans!  (see link below for more information)
  • Since beans EXPAND when soaked and cooked, a bag of beans is way easier to transport, store, and requires way less packaging than multiple cans

These are kidney beans I used for Chili…I often use this method for pinto beans, to use for “refried” beans.

First, rinse the beans:

beans

Next, enter my 26-year-old Crock Pot! (or slow cooker, or whatever it’s called)

For my size crock pot, I use about 3 cups of dried beans, then fill to (almost) the top with water.  I recommend staying home the first time you do this…you want to be sure that the water does not boil dry.

beans in pot

I might leave them on low for 8 hours, or high for about 5.  I start testing them, usually after about 5 hours to see how soft they are.

Once they’re done, I rinse and measure them, then either use or freeze.

Interested in learning more about BPA?  Read what he Canadian Cancer Society says about the risks of, and how to avoid Bisphenol A (BPA)

 

Snow Angel

Whether she’s desperate to get rid of an unwanted odour, mark her territory by spreading her own scent, or just plain itchy, our dog often will dash out the door, and regardless of conditions –  snow, freshly cut grass, mud – in one swift, barely detectable movement, throw herself on the ground, limbs flailing and body rolling.

Today, we realized why.

…to make a snow angel, of course!

snow angel

Although it looks more like the imprint of a splatted giant squirrel!

 

Chili with Ground Chicken

This easy, exceptionally yummy recipechili ingredients

 is a family favourite…but it  wasn’t always! Can you imagine, trying to feed small children kidney beans, peppers and (blech) dill!

I first tasted this when my mom made it, and it was such a tasty treat, considering that drab food we had become accustomed to eating with little kids. The kids picked at theirs, and I gobbled mine, with abandon.  I made it a few times and cut anything spicy, but still, the kids would not eat it.

Now, when I make it, and we all (gloriously) enjoy it…seems rather civilized and adult-like, really!

I made it this week and took some pictures. Once again, if i can do it, you sure can too!

Chili With Lean Ground Beef (or Chicken)

chili

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef or chicken
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (or dehydrated garlic, or garlic powder)
  • 1 sweet green pepper, chopped
  • 1 sweet red pepper chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes (28 oz/796 ml)
  • 1 can red kidney beans (10 oz, 540 ml) I used frozen, previously prepared beans
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh dill or parsley
  • 1/2 cup apple juice (or apple sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped jalapeno pepper or 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

 

  • In a large saucepan, heat oil and brown the beef or chicken
  • Make a well and add onions, garlic, peppers and celery
  • sauté until the onions are translucent
  • Stir in tomatoes, kidney beans, dill, apple juice, chili powder, salt and pepper and tomato paste.
  • Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes.

You can either follow the recipe above, follow mine below, or use both as a base, and do what your heart desires!

Switch or Ditch:

  • I almost always use ground chicken for chili and spaghetti sauce
  • I didn’t have green pepper, so I used one red and one orange sweet pepper
  • did not use jalapeño or hot sauce…my husband and I always add extra chili pepper to our own bowls
  • sadly, I didn’t have fresh garlic, so I used dehydrated
  • also did not have celery
  • no apple juice, so i scooped in a bit of jarred apple sauce, though it didn’t really change the flavour much.  I think it sweetness is meant to decrease the acidity of the tomatoes.
  • I had frozen kidney beans, so I did not use canned (learn how very easy it is to prepare your own beans)

Birthday Dog

Dingo

I don’t really need another reminder of how quickly time passes. (My son just turned 20, my daughter will soon turn 17.) Our dog had a birthday the other day.  Dingo turned 8.

Eight years is almost half of my daughter’s life.  We’ve had both daughter and dog for a really long time!

When Dingo turned two, and my son turned 14, I wrote a column about their comical similarities.

 

To see how the sayings – were you born in a barn?  Dog and pony show, Throw me a bone, and Yanking my chain – can  all be used interchangeably between my son and my dog…

Read more here